Understanding hormones

22/01/2021 / Nutrition
Understanding hormones

When we think of the word “hormone”, straight away we thin about menopause, puberty, thyroid disease, being grumpy, craving sugar etc.

But did you know the food you eat and the exercise you do has a great impact on your hormonal balance and fat loss?

For fat loss, calories are not the entire picture. Hormonal balance is also one of the key factors to helping you burn fat and look and feel your best at any age.

What are hormones?

Hormones are the most powerful chemical messengers in the body, and when it comes to weight loss and feeling well, can make it or break it. In addition to blood sugar control and insulin balance, hormones control metabolism and therefore are intricately connected to the amount of fat you gain or lose. In other words, burning fat and achieving successful weight loss is in fact partly a hormonal event.

1) Insulin – Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which main role is to regulate glucose (sugar) levels and promote fat storage especially around stomach.  Foods that promote that elevate insulin levels include white refined flours and sugars.

2) Glucagon – Glucagon and insulin have opposing effects. When one is up, the other one is down. Glucagon is a fat burning hormone and is produced by the consumption of protein. That’s why It is very important to always not only maintaining an adequate protein consumption for recovery and building muscle tissues but also in fat loss phase helps with satiety level which this fact itself help with the fat loss

3) Cortisol – Cortisol is stress hormone. Unfortunately, cortisol and insulin are generally produced together. If cortisol is elevated because of mild to moderate periods of stress, insulin is also raised which can make weight loss difficult.


other Functional hormones that are essential to understand:


Enhance HDL blood levels, stimulates female pattern of fat deposit. It is a female sex hormone released by the ovaries. It is responsible for the reproduction, menstruation and menopause. Excess of estrogenic in the female body increases the risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, depression, moodiness etc. If estrogenic levels are low in a female body, it leads to acne, skin lesions, thinning skin, hair loss etc.


The placenta is produced in the ovaries when a woman falls pregnant and the adrenal glands . It stimulates and regulates various functions and plays an important role in maintaining pregnancy. It helps the body to prepare for conception, pregnancy and regulates the monthly cycle. When pregnancy does not occur, progesterone levels drop and a menstrual cycle occurs. It also plays a role in the sexual desire.


Stimulates protein synthesis. It is a male sex hormone It and is an anabolic steroid by nature which helps in building body muscles. In males it plays an important role in the development of male reproductive tissues; testes and prostrate. It also promotes secondary sexual characteristics like increasing the mass of muscles and bones, growth of body hair etc.  If testosterone is secreted insufficient in men then it may lead to abnormalities including frailty and bone loss.


Is a mood-boosting effect hormone.  It is associated with learning and memory, regulating sleep, digestion, regulates mood, some muscular functions. Due to the imbalance of serotonin in the body, the brain might not produce enough of the hormone to regulate mood or stress levels. Low level of serotonin causes depression, migraines, weight gain, insomnia, craving of carbohydrates. Excess levels of serotonin in the body causes agitation, stages of confusion and / or sedation.


Hunger and satiety hormones: 


“Hunger Hormone” regulates the appetite and can cause an increase or lack of sleep

Ghrelin has numerous functions. It is termed the ‘hunger hormone’ because it stimulates appetite,

increases food intake and promotes fat storage. When administered to humans, ghrelin increases food intake by up to 30%; it circulates in the bloodstream and acts at the hypothalamus, an area of the brain crucial in the control of appetite. Ghrelin has also been shown to act on regions of the brain involved in reward processing such as the amygdala.

Ghrelin also stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, which, unlike ghrelin itself, breaks down fat tissue and causes the build-up of muscle.

Ghrelin also has protective effects on the cardiovascular system and plays a role in the control of insulin release.


Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells in adipose tissue. Leptin signals to the brain, in particular to an area called the hypothalamus. Leptin does not affect food intake from meal to meal but, instead, acts to alter food intake and control energy expenditure over the long term. Leptin has a more profound effect when we lose weight and levels of the hormone fall. This stimulates a huge appetite and increased food intake. The hormone helps us to maintain our normal weight and unfortunately for dieters, makes it hard to lose those extra pounds!

Because leptin is produced by fat cells, the amount of leptin released is directly related to the amount of body fat; so the more fat an individual has, the more leptin they will have circulating in their blood. Leptin levels increase if an individual increases their fat mass over a period of time and, similarly, leptin levels decrease if an individual decreases their fat mass over a period of time.

On the next blog we will discover how to achieve Hormonal balance.

Stay Tuned.

Leave a Comment